Posted by: Nick Leiber on February 8, 2011
The Chilean government launched its Start-Up Chile program last year with the goal of putting Chile on the map as an innovation hub. To do so, it offered foreign teams behind 25 startups $40,000 grants, residency visas, and hand-holding from the program’s staff to speed acclimation and networking.
The program was popular. More than 150 people applied, including the team behind data platform maker Junar, which was accepted and raised $1.2 million in December—$800,000 of which came from local investors, according to Nicolas Shea, who heads the program. He adds that another program alum’s startup is set to raise a similar amount.
Now Chile is releasing its second iteration. The premise is the same. But the budget is 20 times larger ($20 million) and the scale is more ambitious: up to 300 startups by yearend. It will start to accept applications on Feb. 15 on its website.
Like last year, any type of entrepreneur (of any nationality residing outside Chile) is welcome to apply. “We’re a government; we don’t pretend to be good at picking winners,” says Shea. “We can discriminate by who is serious and who is not by references, application, essays, etc… Serious entrepreneurs are rational people. They come to Chile because it makes sense to come to Chile.”
Shea acknowledges that some business types are better suited for a stint in Chile than others. “Of course, it’s easier to move if you’re a technology entrepreneur. Real estate would be more difficult, right?”
He sees the White House’s recently launched Startup America Partnership as validation of the his program’s promise. “It was inspired, partly, by Start-Up Chile. I’m 100 percent sure about that.”